New Zealand Herald reporters Isaac Davison, Wayne Thompson, Beck Vass, Lincoln Tan and Vaimoana Tapaleao contacted many of the 85 recipients.

This was what they had to say:

Colin Meads, All Black great – undecided

"My wife [Verna] is in hospital and we will have to discuss it ... It's come out of the blue.

"I think the idea is good.


"We are New Zealanders but the people who have been recognised have included some marvellous people, like top doctors, and our two great rugby players in Sir Wilson Whineray and Sir Brian Lochore. They deserve it. When you think of Murray Halberg and Peter Snell, they deserve it.

"As New Zealanders, we know it's a British way of recognising people, but for us in New Zealand, I think it's a tradition we have had for hundreds of years and we should keep it going."

* * *

Dr Ranginui Walker, Maori academic – undecided

"When I was first put forward for the honour I felt the knighthood title had been debased by individuals it had been given to. Roger Douglas, Michael Fay and Robert Muldoon had given knighthoods a bad name.

"The revised honours system retained some of its integrity because it targeted people who were doing good work in their community.

"I have been debating whether I will accept the award. Will the [new system] have the same ethos? Who will it benefit? I know one of the perks is that people recognise you, and you'll be more likely to get upgraded to first class."

* * *

Prof Peter Gluckman, scientist - will probably accept

"I will have to wait until I am formally invited. I see no reason why I would not accept it.

"I think the Prime Minister's logic is right in bringing back knighthoods. I do a lot of work overseas, and there is no doubt that overt evidence of competency is to New Zealand's advantage."

* * *

George Fistonich, winemaker – undecided

"I was very proud to receive the first award. I am a passionate Kiwi, and I think the recognition would be good for the wine industry on the international stage."

* * *

Prof Lloyd Geering, theologian – undecided

"I have only just found out. There are a few problems. If one accepts it, they can be accused of being in the limelight. If one rejects it, they can accused of being too proud.

"Under the revised system my wife was ignored in the recognition. There is always someone important behind someone who is recognised. On these grounds, the knighthood system is a good idea.

* * *

Henry van der Heyden, Fonterra chairman - undecided

"I haven't even thought about it so I'm not in a position to comment."

* * *

Dr Margaret Sparrow, sexual health specialist - will probably accept

"I certainly won't rule it out.

"It has been a bit of an invisible award, and the title gives it more visibility.

"It gives the recipient some credibility. I have worked in a controversial area, so it gives me some legitimacy.

* * *

Dame Malvina Major, opera singer – undecided

"I will give it some thought. I am more happy for others who will be recognised. It is good to be able to call them a Sir or a Dame.

"It did not have to be a British system - it could have been a New Zealand one. But that recognition, and that name, is what you are looking for."

* * *

Sister Pauline O'Regan, former principal of Villa Maria College, Christchurch – declined

"My first reaction when I heard it was I can't believe that the Government is tinkering around with this kind of thing when the world's teetering on the verge of economic collapse. It just blows me away, to be honest.

"I'm amazed that this is what the Government might be putting its energy into when I'm hoping it's going to save us from economic ruin.

"I put a lot of thought into accepting the first honour.

"It seems enough, to be honest. I'm perfectly comfortable with the situation as it stands."

* * *

Peter Siddell, artist – undecided

"I am quite unwell. I will have to think about it."

* * *

Prof Donald Beaven, physician and World Health Organisation representative – undecided

"I will have to wait until my wife comes home.

"One just doesn't know. It is too early to say whether I will accept it."

* * *

Jocelyn Fish, women's rights campaigner – undecided

"I'm still thinking about it.

"I understand we are to receive a letter and I'll reply to that according to how I feel at the time.

"The order which I have - which is distinguished companion - it's inconspicuous, shall we say.

"And whether I want to be conspicuous or not, I'll have to think about it."

* * *

Grace Hollander, ethnic rights campaigner – undecided

"I haven't had time to think about it. Ring me in June if you want an answer.

"All the letters after your name don't mean a thing. Nobody knows what they stand for or what they are, so in a way it is a recognition of that, but I'm not making any decisions in the meantime."

* * *

Leslie Hutchins (deceased), for work in conservation and tourism - his wife Olive Hutchins says:

"I think it's an excellent idea. A lot of people work hard and I don't think anyone remembers them.

"I know that he would have loved it. He earned it - Sir. I wouldn't like the "lady" bit, but I've always felt ... I know how hard he worked and he really did deserve it.

"We're going to put it on his tombstone if we're allowed."

* * *

Oswald George James (deceased), for work in aviation - son Grant says:

"He would have loved it. It was something he was quite angry about under the Labour government. He would have been as happy as hell.

"I know how much he was annoyed about it. He had a very poor upbringing on the East Coast and did very well for himself. He worked hard for it [the Sir title] but didn't get it - which he was robbed of.

"It was something that dad would have been rapt about."